Operation Medicine Cabinet returns May 19

Story Submitted (mtfrontdesk@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: May. 17, 2012 | Modified: May. 20, 2012
Operation Medicine Cabinet returns May 19

Operation Medicine Cabinet volunteers, including representatives from Boone Drug, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the Watauga office of the N.C. Cooperative Extension, man a collection center at a previous event. Operation Medicine Cabinet allows people to donate outdated or unused prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication, syringes and other medical supplies, no questions asked.
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Do you have outdated or unused prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, syringes or other medical supplies?

They can be properly disposed of by dropping them off at the sponsored take-back centers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday May 19.

Take-back locations will be available at the Foscoe Fire Department, Beaver Dam Fire Department and the three Food Lion stores in Watauga County — the U.S. 321 store in Boone, the U.S. 421 Deep Gap store, and the Blowing Rock store.

It is an amnesty day, so no questions will be asked.

On Oct. 3, 2009, a broad coalition of community partners came together to create the first prescription drug take-back day in the High Country. Since that first event two years ago, a total of five “Operation Medicine Cabinet” events have been held every May and October as part of the Watauga County household hazardous waste day.

“Thanks to broad support by community members across the region, the High Country has collected a total of 753,000 pills since 2009. That makes our group the best in the state. Our community outperformed Raleigh, Charlotte and Asheville, even though they are much larger,” according to event officials.

In 2010, the local Operation Medicine Cabinet was recognized as a model program and adopted by other community groups across North Carolina. In 2011, more than 40 drug take-back events were held across the state. This year, the High Country group wants to continue leading the state by being the first group to collect more than a million pills, the officials said.

As part of the local Operation Medicine Cabinet team, Appalachian State University held a drug collection event on April 27. The ASU community kicked off the 2012 Operation Medicine Cabinet season by collecting 8,883 pills and an entire gallon of liquid medications from 34 patrons, the officials said. Now the rest of the High Country gets their chance to build on the ASU success by participating in the communitywide prescription drug take-back day events held across the county on May 19.

The disposal of prescription drugs has long been a dilemma, and many medicine cabinets contain unused or outdated medications. Among teenagers, the fastest growing illegal drug use is the abuse of prescription drugs. The most common method of obtaining prescription drugs is by raiding the medicine cabinet of a friend or family, then consuming the pills or selling them, the officials said.

“From a law enforcement perspective, one of our most important jobs is to work diligently and proactively to prevent drug abuse,” said Watauga County Sheriff Len D. Hagaman. “By hosting an amnesty day that allows the public to turn in any kind of unused or unwanted medications, hopefully, we will keep those drugs off the street and out of the hands of children.”

Another problem with outdated or unused prescription drugs is that people dispose of them improperly by flushing them down the toilet. If their home is connected to a local wastewater treatment facility, then the drugs wind up in either the Watauga River or New River.

“A recent investigation by the Associated Press found a whole host of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, pain medication, antidepressants, sex hormones and heart and blood pressure medicine — in the drinking water supplies of more than 40 million Americans,” said Donna Lisenby, Watauga Riverkeeper.

“It has been very rewarding to see how enthusiastically people have united to support Operation Medicine Cabinet,” said Dick and Joan Hearn of the Watauga River Partners. “We have over 30 community partners, including Helen M. Clabough Charitable Foundation, MountainKeepers, the towns and police departments of Beech Mountain, Boone, Blowing Rock and Seven Devils, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Safe Kids North Carolina, Boone Drug, Watauga County Recycling and Solid Waste Department, Watauga Riverkeeper and the Western North Carolina Alliance, Food Lion, Appalachian Voices, Precision Printing, Foscoe and Beaver Dam fire departments, the Smoky Mountain Center and Appalachian State University, just to name a few.”

One of the strongest community partners that has supported Operation Medicine Cabinet since it began in 2009 has been Boone Drug., officials said. They have staffed every event with pharmacy personnel to assist law enforcement officers to properly identify, count and catalog the pills collected in accordance with the Drug Enforcement Agency permit requirements.

Carrie Phillips, marketing coordinator for the locally owned and operated business, said, “Boone Drug is dedicated to making sure prescription drugs are handled safely and disposed of properly. We are proud to volunteer our time and support this community project. We hope everybody will come see us at the collection events on May 19 and join us in the communitywide effort to be the first county in North Carolina to collect more than one million pills and save our rivers and kids from drugs.”
To find out more about the event, visit http://www.drugtakebackday.com.

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